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Output encoding

Document updated on Sep 14, 2022

An important concept to get familiar with is that by default, KrakenD does not work as a reverse proxy (unless you use the no-op encoding). When clients consume upstream services content through KrakenD, it is automatically transformed to the encoding of your choice, and you have the opportunity to manipulate and aggregate data easily.

KrakenD can send these responses back to the client in different formats to what your services provide. We call the encoding you provide to the end-user the output_encoding, while the content your services (backend) provide to KrakenD we call them encoding.

The request/response flow is:

content-type-flow.mmd diagram

  • The encoding is how KrakenD expects to find the response data of your backends. It is declared in each backend section (and you can mix types)
  • The output_encoding is how you would like to process and return all the responses to the client. It is declared in the endpoint section.

Example

For instance, you can have one endpoint /foo that consumes content from multiple services in parallel in different formats (encoding) like XML or RSS. But you want to return the aggregated information in JSON (the output_encoding). You can mix encodings and return them normalized automatically.

Output encoding diagram

Configuration of output_encoding

The following output_encoding strategies are available to choose from for every endpoint, depending on the decoding and encoding needs you have:

Proxy to one service

  • no-op: No operation, meaning that KrakenD skips any encoding or decoding, capturing whatever content, format, and status code your backend returns. This is how most API gateway products work today, but KrakenD is not just a proxy. See no-op documentation.

Working with JSON

  • json: This is the default encoding when no output_encoding is declared or when you pass an invalid option. The endpoint always returns a JSON object to the client, no matter what the encoding of your backend is.
  • fast-json: Same as json but it’s ~140% faster on collections and ~30% faster on objects (average tests). Only available on the Enterprise Edition. You will notice the difference in speed of the fast-json encoding when the payloads increase in size (a small payload has an insignificant comparison to json encoding).
  • json-collection: Returning an array or collection is not treated equally to an object. When the endpoint must return a JSON collection [...] instead of an object {...}, you must use this output. The backend response expects an object named collection, but this is automatically done by KrakenD when you use in the backend the is_collection or safejson.

Working with non-JSON

  • xml: When the endpoint returns an XML object no matter the encoding of your backend.
  • string: Treat the whole response as a simple string
  • negotiate: Allows the client to choose by parsing its Accept header. KrakenD accepts:
    • application/json
    • application/xml
    • text/plain (outputs in YAML)

Output encoding examples

Each endpoint declaration can define which encoder should be used, as shown in this example. By default, when the output_encoding is omitted, KrakenD falls back to JSON:json-coll

{
  "endpoints": [
    {
      "endpoint": "/foo",
      "output_encoding": "negotiate",
      "backend": [
        {
          "url_pattern": "/foo"
        }
      ]
    },
    {
      "endpoint": "/var",
      "output_encoding": "string",
      "backend": [
        {
          "url_pattern": "/var"
        }
      ]
    },
    {
      "endpoint": "/baz",
      "backend": [
        {
          "url_pattern": "/baz"
        }
      ]
    }
  ]
}

The endpoint /baz will use the default encoding json as no encoding has been defined.

Scarf

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